So the big news in squeaky clean Singapore of late is that this manicured island-state is hardly as bland, boring or as vice-free as it's been made out to be, by both local politicians and Western media. In fact, over the past few weeks, Southeast Asia's shining tower of morality has been plagued by one scandal after the other. First, several well-reputed public figures were charged with engaging the services of an underaged prostitute (mind you, prostitution is legal here but frolicking with a minor is considered a huge no-no); among the 50 or so men charged was a former school principal, a number of other public servants, and a very high-profile millionaire environmental activist. After this scandal broke, two similar cases came to light, in which very senior government officials have been charged with corruption; both men appear to have awarded large government contracts to certain companies in exchange for sexual favours. Even more recently, the chief of protocal at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has come under police investigation for filing improper claims for expenses during overseas trips.
But the case that has the whole country talking concerns the misappropriation of possibly up to US$62.5 million of church funds in order to fund the pop music career of a pastor's wife. Dance music fans may have heard of a singer named Sun Ho, who has or has tried (depending on who you speak with) to break into the dance music scenes in China, Taiwan and the United States. Overseas, her image, thanks in part to music videos in which she cavorts around in skin-tight or hardly-there outfits, is pretty much that of an Asian strollop. At home, however, Ho Yeow Sun, as she's properly named, is heralded and loved by thousands. Despite her ridiculous popstar image, her fans adore her and hold her up as a model of a good Christian wife. Ho's husband, Pastor Kong Hee, is the founder of one of the country's largest, most popular, most charismatic and wealthiest churches. From 1993 to 2003, Ho was the head of City Harvest Church's Creative Department and was often seen on stage performing for the congregation.
Today, Pastor Kong and four other members of the inner circle of City Harvest Church are under arrest for corruption. The investigators are still piecing together how much money Kong and his cronies embezzled. First it was reported to be US$20 million, then it became US$39 million. Recent rumors have suggested the sum is as high as US$62.5 million. And what did the money go to? To helping Kong's wife live her dreams and buy her way into the top of a number of charts. She's released multiple Mandarin pop albums, all of which have either reached double or platinum status. She's collaborated with Wyclef Jean and has had four #1 songs on the Billboard dance charts.
In Ho's case, money was able to buy her happiness and fame. But depending on the pending cases against her husband and his co-conspirators, all this may be coming to an end.
Here are a few of her videos, as well as a video on the church itself. You decide if the tens of millions was well-spent... or rather, well-stolen.
Photo by AISPIX by Image Source/Shutterstock